Writer’s note: This is the third piece in a four-part series on the 2017-18 NHL season where a second team has been added into the expansion fold alongside the Vegas Golden Knights: the Quebec Nordiques. I’m covering the year from the beginning of the 2017-18 season to just after free agency in the 2018 off-season. The majority of the season is simmed, games against the top-tier teams are played, and I’ll play one playoff game each round if the Nordiques make it through in their inaugural season. See the first piece here, and check out part two here.
After building what I felt was a competitive roster, it was time to deliver the product on the ice. Fans had been waiting for a team in Quebec for roughly 21 years and the time was finally here. It was time for the Quebec Nordiques to play hockey.
Writer’s note: For the remainder of the Nordiques franchise and when talking about games, mostly in relation to simmed games, I’m going to be using a few acronyms that will let readers know the outcome of a given game and if the team was home or away as follows:
- Win = W
- Loss = L
- Overtime Win/Loss = OTW/OTL
- Shootout Win/Loss = SOW/SOL
- VS = Nordiques Home
- @ = Nordiques Away
Simming the Preseason
Because I really wanted to jump right into the action of the season, I simmed through the preseason. With this new pack of players learning to play together for the first time, I was impressed to see the team record after the final preseason game.
- September 25: 5-2 vs Red Wings (W, @)
- September 27: 3-2 vs Sabres (SOL, @)
- September 30: 3-2 vs Canadiens (OTW, VS)
- October 2: 5-2 vs Maple Leafs (W, VS)
- October 3: 3-2 vs Bruins (OTW, @)
- October 6: 6-1 vs Senators (W, VS)
- October 8: 5-3 vs Hurricanes (L, VS)
The Real McCoy
After a 5-2 preseason, I was excited that my new squad was starting to click pretty quickly and would be full throttle right out of the gate. They sure didn’t disappoint, and left the league wondering how an upstart franchise could be playing so well with a roster of players that were learning to play together on the fly (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?). Forever looking for improvement, I also decided to go after stud rookie center Nico Hischier, who I foolishly passed up on as the first overall pick.
Nordiques and New Jersey Devils Exchange Rookies
October 16, 2017
In what can only be described as an overly aspiring move to improve quickly, the Quebec Nordiques and New Jersey Devils swapped the first and second overall picks of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Quebec gave up a potential future star, adding a 1st round pick for the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. The move landed Les Nords a player in Nico Hischier that had a high level of potential and a player that could crack the starting roster next season after a year in the CHL.
Quebec Nordiques receive:
New Jersey Devils receive:
October 18, 2017 – Week 1
(3-0-0) Quebec Nordiques Vs. Vancouver Canucks (1-2-0)
2 – 3 (OT)
A New Canadian Rivalry Brings High Level Entertainment, Nordiques Downed In OT Thriller
An early goal by Evgenii Dadonov of the Quebec Nordiques in the first five minutes of the game really set the tone against the Vancouver Canucks in the first Wednesday Night Rivalry game of the Nordiques’ franchise. Dadonov got to the front of the net untouched and perfectly tipped home a point shot from Dylan Larkin, scoring his second goal of the young NHL season. Both teams traded big hits and scoring chances, including an open shot from the circle by Henrik Sedin that was robbed by Nordiques keeper Joonas Korpisalo.
The game was tightly played until the 15:52 mark of the second period where standout Canucks rookie Brock Boeser ripped home his first goal as an NHL player, scoring low glove side from the slot. Quebec scored their second goal of the game with 5:10 left in the second period; once again, Evgenii Dadonov tipped home a lofted wrist shot from Josh Brodin at the point, which trickled past Canucks netminder Jacob Markstrom.
Vancouver came out hot in the third period, tying the game 29 seconds in thanks to a beautiful goal from Bo Horvat, which was his 50th goal as an NHL player. Picking up a loose puck in the corner, Horvat pulled a quick spin-o-rama move around Nordiques defender Mattias Ekholm and ended up in front of the net to quickly send a backhand shot top corner.
Both teams battled hard with more scoring chances on both ends, but the game needed overtime to decide a winner. Vancouver was the victor of the night after a pass from the corner by Christopher Tanev was buried by Bo Horvat, his second of the night.
Nordiques Player Stats
Canucks Player Stats
October 27, 2017 – Week 2
(3-0-0) Quebec Nordiques Vs. Montreal Canadiens (1-2-0)
3 – 1
Battle Of Quebec Reignited After 21 Year Hiatus, Nordiques Edge Out Canadiens
The Battle of Quebec never really went away, it was just dormant for many years. This was pretty evident right out of the gate as both the Nordiques and Canadiens came out aggressive, throwing bodies at each other at every chance, forechecking hard and attacking the puck with near reckless abandon. The tone of the game was set early when, less than 5 minutes in, Jaromir Jagr glided into open ice in the slot and was lined up to fire home a possible goal until he was absolutely demolished by Brendan Gallagher on a clean open ice hit. After getting up slowly, Jagr skated to the bench and did not return until later in the period. A terrible tripping penalty at the 11:49 mark gave the Canadiens a power play and they took full advantage of the opportunity, scoring just 17 seconds into the extra man attack. After a quick pokecheck, Alex Galchenyuk picked up the puck in the slot and wired home a top corner wrist shot on Michael Neuvirth’s blocker side. A 5-on-3 power play for the Nordiques later in the first period saw the game draw even as Dylan Larkin took advantage of a quick counter attack off a Canadiens dump. After quickly sending the puck up the ice, a pass from just recovered Jaromir Jagr saw Larkin fly by the Montreal defense to go 1 on 1 with Carey Price. A leg lift deke and nifty forehand-backhand deke fired off the top corner post and into the net notched the game at 1-1.
Chances were exchanged back and forth until 14:25 in the third period where David Perron put the Nordiques ahead 2-1 after his wrist shot handcuffed Carey Price, bounced off his chest, and trickled into the net. Melker Karlsson scored an empty net goal with 7 seconds left to ice the game, giving the Nordiques the hard fought win.
Nordiques Player Stats
Canadiens Player Stats
- October 12: 4-3 vs Kings (W, @)
- October 15: 5-3 vs Panthers (W, VS)
- October 16: 2-1 vs Coyotes (W, VS)
- October 21: 3-2 vs Devils (SOL, VS)
- October 23: 5-1 vs Blues (W, VS)
- October 24: 2-1 vs Bruins (OTW, @)
- October 30: 4-1 vs Lightning (L, VS)
- October 31: 5-2 vs Avalanche (W, VS)
November 17, 2017 – Week 5
(8-7-2) Chicago Blackhawks Vs. Quebec Nordiques (11-4-2)
2 – 5
Bryan Rust And Nordiques Prove Too Much For Blackhawks
This game was fairly one sided from the first drop of the puck. The Quebec Nordiques were just too much for the Blackhawks on this night with scoring that started early thanks to Michael Grabner firing a wrist shot into the roof of the net and knocking off Corey Crawford’s water bottle at the 15:21 mark. Roughly 4 minutes later, Melker Karlsson turned in the slot off a pass by Devante Smith-Pelley and rang a shot on Crawford’s short side into the back of the net, giving Les Nords a commanding 2-0 lead not even halfway into the game. The Blackhawks cut the deficit to 2-1 after a blocked shot bounced onto Nick Schmaltz’s stick and he ripped it into the net past Michael Neuvirth.
The pace of the game really slowed down until Patrick Kane poked home a power-play goal at the 5:50 mark of the 2nd period to tie things up 2-2. Roughly a minute and a half later, Chicago got called for a hooking penalty, putting Quebec’s deadly power-play unit on the ice; once again they didn’t disappoint as David Perron gave the Nordiques back a 3-2 lead with a top corner cannon just a minute into the extra-man attack.
After both teams were assessed penalties, the ice opened up to some 4-on-4 hockey. A well timed poke check by Jordan Staal sent him in alone on a breakaway where he buried an absolute beauty from a shot with his stick in between his legs, giving the Nordiques a 4-2 lead with 12:56 left in the third period. Bryan Rust gave Quebec a 5-2 lead at the 11:29 mark of the third period, scoring a shorthanded goal. The complete dominance by the Nordiques showed right until the final whistle of the game.
Blackhawks Player Stats
Nordiques Player Stats
- November 1: 6-2 vs Red Wings (W, VS)
- November 5: 3-2 vs Jets (W, VS)
- November 7: 3-1 vs Golden Knights (W, @)
- November 8: 5-0 vs Hurricanes (L, @)
- November 11: 6-3 vs Flyers (W, VS)
- November 12: 4-2 vs Islanders (L, @)
- November 15: 3-1 vs Blue Jackets (L, @)
- November 19: 3-0 vs Predators (L, VS)
- November 21: 2-1 vs Ducks (SOL, VS)
- November 24: 2-1 vs Maple Leafs (SOL, @)
- November 26: 4-3 vs Rangers (L, @)
- November 28: 4-1 vs Sabres (L, @)
- November 30: 4-1 vs Sharks (W, VS)
December 6, 2017 – Week 8
(18-8-0) Ottawa Senators Vs. Quebec Nordiques (13-9-4)
3 – 6
Quebec Nordiques Beat First Place Senators In Hard Fought Battle
Quebec was matched up against the first place Ottawa Senators who had dominated the league to the current point of the season. The Nordiques quickly found out why Ottawa was in a class of their own as the Senators jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead less than three minutes into the game thanks to a 2-on-1 one-time goal from Mark Stone. Persistence and hard work by the Nordiques led to a goal with 7:44 left in the first period. After a laser wrist shot by Jaromir Jagr was initially saved by Craig Anderson after catching him off guard, Dylan Larkin jumped all over the rebound to clean up and bring the game to a 1-1 tie. Just 24 seconds later, Les Nords took a 2-1 lead after Jordan Staal’s attempted pass across the slot bounced off of Chris Wideman’s stick, glanced off Craig Anderson’s blocker and was tipped in off the line by an alert Evgenii Dadonov, notching his 7th goal of the campaign.
The game tightened up and became a defensive battle until a power-play goal by Bobby Ryan saw the Senators tie the game up again 2-2 at 7:06 of the second period. A minute and a half into the third period saw the game reach its boiling point. Dylan Larkin bulldozed Matt Hoffman into the boards and Dion Phaneuf took exception to the hit, immediately dropping his gloves to fight Larkin. The fight was short as Larkin caught a vicious right hand and crumpled into a heap. He also received a game misconduct for the hit on Hoffman, giving the Senators a 5-minute power play. Two minutes into the Senators extra-man attack the Nordiques managed to start some quick puck movement on the offensive end that resulted in an absolutely blistering slap shot goal from the point by Jonas Brodin, putting Quebec up 3-2 with 16:47 left in the game.
The lead was short-lived as Ottawa’s power play proved to be too much. Kyle Turris tied the game 3-3 with 15:17 left in the third period, scoring under two minutes after the Nordiques took the lead. Within 45 seconds, Quebec took the lead again with another shorthanded goal, this time from former Ottawa Senator Ryan Dzingel who roofed home his fourth goal of the year. The lead was stretched to 5-3 after Sami Vatanen caught the Senators on a sloppy line change and took off down the wing, beating Craig Anderson on a backhand goal. Evgenii Dadonov iced the game scoring an open net goal with 41 seconds left, his second of the night.
Senators Player Stats
Nordiques Player Stats
- December 3: 6-2 vs Oilers (L, @)
- December 4: 6-1 vs Flames (L, VS)
- December 8: 5-4 vs Penguins (SOW, @)
- December 11: 4-3 vs Wild (SOW, @)
- December 13: 4-2 vs Capitals (L, VS)
- December 15: 4-3 vs Stars (SOW, @)
- December 16: 5-3 vs Kings (W, VS)
- December 20: 2-1 vs Panthers (L, @)
- December 21: 4-3 vs Coyotes (L, @)
- December 23: 5-4 vs Canucks (SOL, VS)
- December 29: 4-1 vs Devils (W, @)
- December 31: 4-1 vs Blues (W, @)
Quebec Nordiques Make Trade With Red Wings To Shake Up Slumping Roster
January 20, 2018
In a move believed to try and shake up a roster and team that started the season hot but started to slump, news broke early in the morning that the Quebec Nordiques sent off a quality defenseman and a prospect and pick to the Detroit Red Wings to bring in some help on the wing.
Quebec Nordiques receive:
Detroit Red Wings receive:
With an abundance of skilled wingers, Les Nords felt that the trade would work out for the team. After making the trade, the team called up left winger Matt Nieto from Granby to join the squad.
January 20, 2018 – Week 14
(27-16-2) New York Islanders Vs. Quebec Nordiques (22-19-4)
3 – 6
Nordiques Crush Islanders After Roster Shakeup
It seemed as if a change was needed to pull Les Nords out of their slump; they started the season hot but plummeted from fourth overall in the NHL to a paltry 17th place before the beginning of this game. The Islanders controlled the pace from the drop of the puck before the Nordiques really started to get momentum going. At the 9:44 mark of the first period, the deadlock was broken by Matt Nieto, who was called up the morning of the game to join the team. After shielding the puck around the net, Nieto skated out front to his forehand and fired a shot past Jaroslav Halak to give Quebec a 1-0 lead. The lead was pushed to 2-0 a couple minutes later, after a strong forecheck that had Patrik Berglund score on Halak’s short side off a pass across the slot from Bryan Rust.
The second period was where Quebec continued their dominant play as Bryan Rust extended the score to 3-0 after a quick snap shot off a pass from Patrik Berglund. Matt Nieto’s second point of the game was an assist on a goal scored by Ryan Dzingel at 9:30 of the second period, continuing the onslaught on the Islanders and increasing the score to 4-0.
The third period was more of the same with the Nordiques continuing to completely dominate play. Goal number five came at the 13:48 mark after Evgenii Dadonov carried the puck across the Islander blue line and fired a wrister into the top blocker-side corner, cramping up Jaroslav Halak. Adding insult to injury, Dadonov potted his second goal of the game and 15th on the year after a sloppy line change by the Islanders, who looked completely stale and unmotivated after the 7th minute of period one. Dadonov’s goal came with 45 seconds left in the game, making the score 6-0 in favor of the Nordiques. The win and apparent change in attitude after making some roster changes looked promising for Quebec, as they played arguably their strongest game of the season.
Islanders Player Stats
Nordiques Player Stats
- January 1: 5-1 vs Bruins (L, VS)
- January 4: 2-1 vs Canadiens (L, VS)
- January 6: 5-2 vs Lightning (L, @)
- January 8: 5-2 vs Avalanche (W, @)
- January 10: 3-2 vs Red Wings (L, @)
- January 13: 3-1 vs Jets (L, @)
- January 15: 4-3 vs Golden Knights (SOL, VS)
- January 16: 2-1 vs Hurricanes (W, VS)
- January 19: 4-3 vs Flyers (OTW, @)
Stats and Facts Around the League
As we had hit the NHL All-Star Weekend, here was a quick glance at the stats and facts around the league up to this point.
Conference Standings: East
Conference Standings: West
League Leaders, Skaters: Goals (G), Assists (A), Points (P), Plus/Minus (+/-)
League Leaders, Goalies: Shutouts (SO), Save % (SV%), Goals Against Average (GAA)
Four Months In…
Through just about four months of the season and right at the All-Star break, the Quebec Nordiques were in a decent position. As expected for an expansion team playing their first year in the league, the team had been having its ups and downs and was still in the hunt for a playoff spot, sitting in a four way tie for the eighth seed. Things were going alright but there was still room for improvement and growth. What would the rest of the season turn out to be for the Nordiques? Would the team be able to make the playoffs? What would the team do in the offseason? Check back for the final piece to the Quebec Nordiques franchise to find out!